The Best Advice I've Gotten (Life of a Freelance Dancer turns 1 year old)

 Giving a speech (Photo: Lindsay Thomas)
I am very excited to say that Life of a Freelance Dancer celebrated it's first birthday last Tuesday. In one short year, this blog has been viewed over 14,000 times by viewers on all 6 continents (Does Antarctica even count?). We have written over 52 posts with guest bloggers from multiple dance scenes on all topics pertaining to this career style. We have been shared by multiple other bloggers, partnered with a website design company that makes sites specifically for dancers, and threw an event for freelancers in New York City (stay tuned for another). Not only that, "LOFD" was named a finalist in Dance Advantage's top dance blog contest.  Cheers to a great kick off year and to many more to come!

In honor of "LOFD's" first year of life, I have decided to list some of the best advice that I have received and given over the past year. I have had many great, odd, challenging, and rewarding experiences during my first year of full-time freelancing and I have, surely, learned a lot. I couldn't have made it through without the support of my partner, mentors, colleagues, friends, and family (and because I didn't ask if I could share any of these gems, I will not be listing those who gave me this advice). Enjoy!

- "Trust you instincts."

- "Make a list of choreographers you want to work with and contact them."

- "Market yourself unabashedly, but don't be that person who puts a card in everyone's hand at the start of every conversation."

- "Do be gracious towards your employers. They chose to hire you over many other dancers. Whether it be an honest verbal thank you, a short note, or a follow-up email, let your employer know that you are appreciative and what you will take away/remember from your time working with the company."

- "Your value as a dancer is not based on what you are dancing at a particular moment. It's the sum of your whole career."

- "Don't try to clean up other people's messes. Give support if they ask for assistance, but let them clean up for themselves."

- "There is no timeline to a dance career."

- "Create pathways. If you create multiple pathways, one is sure to take. If you only make one, if it doesn't work out, you have nowhere to go."

-"Don't let those that haven't been in your shoes make you feel like you are less than you're worth." "One can't understand what it is like to play in the big leagues when they are only in the minors."

-"If dancing is something you are truly passionate about, be sure to make that apparent in your work ethic and artistry. People will notice." 

-"Acknowledge the problem, find a workable solution, take care of yourself, and don't internalize the problem."

 - "If you are offering your services for nothing or close to that, you are lowering your value as a commodity."

- "In classical ballet, you are expected to strive for perfect technique in your performance (among other things). In contemporary dance, you are expected to be moving."

- "I do what I need to. I help out when I can. And I don't make a big deal out of either."

-  "If you need something, you have to ask for it."

- "Find a way to be more compelling."

- "Take breaks from work."

- "Just because somebody hired you doesn't mean that you are a slave to their every wish."

- "Repeated thoughts create wiring in the brain. Once you have created that wired connection, it is hard to break the pattern of thought."

- "When a situation does get bad, I think the pressure valve will be empathy.
You can't submit. But you just might be able to understand."

- "Do smile and laugh. This may seem super shallow, but employers are drawn to dancers that are happy. The more you smile and laugh, the more likely an employer will enjoy your presence. Try to do this genuinely."

- Lastly...from my mom. Not necessarily advice, but a motherly push at the end of some advice. Mom: "You're famous." Me: "No, I'm not." Mom: "You are to me."

Elizel Long & me in Amy Seiwert's "Monuments" (Photo: Gutierrez Photography)

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